January 23, 2018

New Police Service Commission to be implemented by December

By Lakhram Bhagirat

The three-year life span of the Police Service Commission (PSC) expired on September 4, 2017. The offices of Chairman and Commissioners became vacant automatically, and according to Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, President David Granger is currently in the process of finalising names for the reconstitution of the Commission.

Public Security Minister
Khemraj Ramjattan

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, in a letter dated July 27, wrote to the PSC informing them that the President directed that there be no consideration of promotion for members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) until further notice and should be implemented immediately.
President Granger is accused of disrespecting Article 226, Section (1) of the Constitution, which states: “In the exercise of its functions under the Constitution, a Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority”.
When asked about the impact of the President’s decision, former PSC Chairman Omesh Satyanand had said it was a blow for those hardworking Police ranks expecting to be rewarded for their services.
“When you’re working for a number of years, you expect to have an increase in wages and salary; you look forward for promotion because you are working hard and these are expectations of employees and it would affect any organisation from an employee-employer perspective,” he related.
The President’s action was the result of a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) that was launched into the effectiveness of the Police Force in investigating the alleged plot to assassinate the Head of State. Granger came in for heavy criticism after he issued the directive, with Satyanand saying that the promotion of the ranks did not have any direct impact on the work or recommendations of the CoI.
The report of the CoI, along with recommendations, was presented to President Granger since August 31 and the directive is yet to be lifted. President Granger had made it clear that his Government did not intend to trample on the constitutional rights of the PSC, but wanted that whatever was done presented a positive image of the Police Force. He had stated his office received a number of complaints from aggrieved senior Police Officers and had asked that those claims be investigated.

President David Granger

“There have been some doubts and we are investigating the complaints that have been made to us, and we have asked the PSC simply to delay so that we can answer those queries.”
He said as soon as those questions are answered, “we will proceed”.
The President had earlier stated that with the complaints, there was evidence that injustices might have been done. “We just need time to have the complaints from aggrieved Police Officers thoroughly investigated,” he said.
President Granger stressed that Government was not seeking to trample on the constitutional rights of the Police Commission, but noted that damage could be done by persons who were not “fit and proper” to make decisions and that could be injurious to public security.
Attorney Rajendra Jaigobin, from the Chambers of former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, filed court action challenging the directive, requesting that it be put on hold. The action was filed in the High Court in August.